cue that sappy “Mary Poppins” tune
There’s something about feeding birds, whether they be street pigeons or, in this case, ducks and geese at a reflecting pool. City birds like pigeons, mourning doves, and ducks are usually a safe choice, as most won’t bite, peck, or otherwise hurt the hand that feeds them, making them ideal for children. Geese, on the other hand, will hiss and poke if provoked, even those used to human contact.
But as fun as it was to feed pigeons as a child, I look at the practice with apprehension now, especially on the National Mall where many birds are transient rather than full-time residents. Animals need a certain degree of independence from humans in order to survive. They need to know how to forage for themselves rather than rely on scraps thrown from children. To subject them to constant hand-feeding makes them vulnerable to the world around them, especially in times when food gets scarce.
Feeding birds can be fun. But if you really care about them, let them find their own food!